Well, I bought a car. I researched, I gathered data, I drove cars. I searched craigslist, scoured kbb, and coaxed all the information I could out of edmunds. I analyzed all the options to the point of analysis paralysis. And then I just bought another Corolla. Between my parents and siblings we have now purchased 5 Corollas. My new one is a 2006 that only had 31,000 miles on it. And yes, it came with those hip-hop rims you’ll see in the pictures. I didn’t add those myself. I tried to break tradition and find something different, but the research bore out the decision to get another Corolla. That and how familiar it felt when I drove one.

Those of you that knew me in high school undoubtedly remember the first Corolla my family owned. It was a 1981, the fourth generation, or E70, if you are keeping track. I’m not that old though. No, that car was 12 years old when I started driving it, and it had seen better days. It ran fine, but there were issues, like the radio didn’t work and it didn’t have air conditioning. It was slow to accelerate. It shook if you drove too fast. It was orange. It was probably the perfect car to give a 16-year old.

My friend, Nolan, also drove an old car in high school. I thought it was a 1974, but Wikipedia says that the last year they were made was 1968. The year doesn’t really matter though. What’s pertinent, is that it was a seasoned and still mighty, Dodge Power Wagon.

One Wednesday evening in Kennewick, while Nolan, I, and the others who play into this tale, resided safe inside the brick walls of the Union Building, the Corolla and the Old Power Wagon sat inanimately in the parking lot with all the other cars. Or so we thought.

You see, while we worked on merit badges and awkwardly flirted in the hallways with the girls who were, well, doing whatever the Young Women church activities were, an event not well understood by the likes of Men took place outside.

A sudden and unusual cloud cover gathered over the parking lot. The cars became completely obscured as the clouds lowered and enshrouded the seemingly innocuous group of automobiles. A clearing emerged in the middle of the mist. It started small and pushed the haze outward until a circle of cars was visible, cars that had once been parked in (relatively) neat and orderly rows. In the middle of the circle the two oldest and most wizened vehicles sat facing each other. The larger and older of the two, the truck, the Old Power Wagon, appeared to gaze down appraisingly on the smaller, slightly younger, orange sedan. Engines revved all around them, and horns bleated. A haunting rhythm emerged from the car noises as the Corolla seemed to stare back, deferential but confident. All perceived the Old Power Wagon weighing and assessing. Suspense built as the rhythmic revving and bleating raised to a crescendo. The mist began to swirl counter clockwise around the circle of cars. The noise inside became deafening. Finally, the Corolla added the piercing growl of its own 1.8 liter engine to the symphony, as if making a bold assertion to the Old Power Wagon. The old Dodge seemed to scowl and then revved its engine furiously, belching exhaust. The thundering roar rose above the sound of the chanting circle of cars and shook the earth. The Corolla did not back down. Both held their throttles open for an uncomfortable amount of time when finally the Dodge engine eased a bit and made a gravelly sputtering sound. It could have been an approving chuckle, but before one could be sure there was a brilliant and protracted flash of lightening. By the time the blinding light was gone all was silent and the mist had completely closed in around all the cars.

Outside the fog all anyone perceived was the descending of the cloud, a period of time where the mist silently swirled and then a flash of lightening and one crash of thunder. As the echoes of the thunder, echoes which may have sounded curiously like car engines, died away, the mist dispersed and the cars were there where their owners had left them, as if nothing at all had happened. Almost nothing.

As we mingled in the parking lot after the activities were over, Greg and Nolan walked over to Arthur and I, Greg holding a rectangular piece of metal. As they got closer I could see that it was silver lettering from the side of Nolan’s truck, reading “POWER WAGON,” in all caps. It seems it had fallen off of Nolan’s truck somehow while we were inside. Not knowing why, Nolan and Greg felt compelled to show it to me. As it was placed in my hand the four of us examined each others faces. Somehow we all thought the same thing. The next day in solemnity, Arthur and I took my dad’s drill to the hood of my corolla. It stood proudly in my driveway as we drilled two mounting holes, and then two more holes in the two letter O’s in POWER WAGON. Nobody could explain why, but we just knew that bolting the new moniker to the front of that old corolla was the right thing to do. From then on it was no longer a simple Toyota Corolla. It was, The Power Wagon.

I drove the Power Wagon all over the Tri-Cities during my high school years. When I left for college it was passed on to Melinda and then somewhere further down the line it’s useful service to our family was lived out and it was sold. I retained the Moniker though. The silver letters have been hanging on the wall in my cubicle at work, inspiring me in memoriam of its proud former bearers.

I cannot say how the story of the parking lot ceremony was made known to me, but I pass it on to you now, so that you might have some understanding of the significance of the photos of my new car below. Behold:


Ily April 18, 2009 at 1:41 a.m.

You are a bit crazy.

Julie April 18, 2009 at 11:41 a.m.

Bryan this story is great! I am glad you were able to find the son of the power wagon! I love the sticker on the window! Too funny.

Steffenie April 18, 2009 at 12:29 p.m.

Lexa and I enjoyed the story very much!

Melinda April 19, 2009 at 10:11 a.m.

ahhh... I loved that car too. The decal looks great!